The Role of Memory/Martin Rosenfeld, JD

Posted on January 24, 2019

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The following quote, by Tammy Lenski, a mediator and author, (See tammylenski.com/the-body-in-the-suitcase-and-the-conflict-stories-we-tell) packs quite a punch:

“When we get into a conflict with someone, it’s natural to replay our experience of the conflict, both in our minds and as we tell others about it. Over time, this replay can begin to feel like The Truth About What Happened. But it isn’t.”

As children, we all may have played the game of “telephone”. As the message passes from person to person, the original statement becomes garbled and, at times, unrecognizable. In replaying a contentious event, the details lose a certain amount of precision. What started out as, perhaps, justifiable anger, can morph into an unfocused rage. When negotiating with someone, try to ask yourself if your anger’s intensity is justified or even based on fact. Don’t assume that your memory is not capable of exaggerating past hurts. Focus not on the past hurt but on the future resolution. Only a forward-looking view can get you to Win-Win. Mediate don’t litigate.

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